Bee Balm thrives on it's own in the wild when grown in dry heavy clay soils, with partial shade to full sun. Best started from young nursery grown pots into ordinary garden soil. Plants take off and spread like crazy. Blooms 20-50 whorls of red, pink or lilac flowers at the top of branching stems mid summer. Bee Balm leaves have a slight lemon-citrus flavor. A hardy perennial in U.S. Zones 5-10, clip back old foliage in late fall to produce tender new growth in the spring.
Aromatic blossoms and leaves may be dried and used in sachets and potpourri's. The plants fragrance is noted for it's use in oil of thyme. The flowers are very popular with honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The entire plant emits a strong citrus-like fragrance.
The entire Bee Balm plant ,from ground up, is edible as a pot herb. Use bee balm as a flavoring in cooked dishes, the flowers make an attractive edible garnish for salads and deli platters. In various parts of the U.S. it's dried leaves make a common beverage known as Oswego tea. Other uses for the leaves are to flavor apple jelly and fruit cups.
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Historically used by the early U.S. colonist , bee balm was substituted as Oswego tea after the English Tea. During the Boston Tea Party, the patriots threw the English tea into the harbor in protest to high taxes imposed by the British. Other vernacular names include: Bergamot, Gold Melissa and Indian nettle. Monarda = Bee Balm